The Internet has not taken over the world — yet. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is thankfully not our sole model of social behavior.

Does anyone else find it odd that 60 percent of his programmers are clinically anti-social?

There are still ways for HVAC contractors to break through the marketing clutter and get a response that is not purely Internet based. But there are some seriously dead mediums out there, too. So, let’s dispel a couple myths and get some leads.

Newspaper advertising. Remember these? The modern world makes you think these are only found in abandoned caves, amid the remnants of a long-extinguished fire. Fortunately, there are still literate and affluent people who value them and are less than 112 years old.

Print advertising still tops digital ads. Lead generation and recall in print outpace online versions. But, remember to join forces and integrate your offline article with an online call to action. This is to create a steady stream of activity and leads online and offline.

Affluent customers prefer print. According to Advertising Age’s AdAge Stat blog, affluent customers (those earning over $155,000 annually) “significantly” prefer print to online media. Citing the “Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer,” they found that 86 percent of well-to-do Americans read printed newspapers, while 39 percent read news in print and online, and 14 percent go online and use smartphones.

Forget the hype; don’t pull the plug on print. Use a balanced strategy of online and offline media. Since print is so favored by the affluent (including 93 percent who prefer it for printed magazines over their digital counterpart), it’s far wiser to strategize.


•          Neighborhood/zone options in newspaper advertising, including community newspapers. Prices are down; many competitors have pulled out, driving your response rate up by default.

•          Send targeted direct mail offers to chosen ZIP codes.

•          Yellow Pages advertising. It appears these books are only found in abandoned caves, amid the remnants of a long-extinguished fire and carried by various 112-year-olds, all of whom appear to be bargain shoppers. In fact, use is down 44 percent, with 78 percent of respondents noting more Internet use. I do not advise getting out of the Yellow Pages completely, however, since 35 percent of people 55 years old and above still consider it a primary lookup source.

•          Email marketing. For all email’s benefits — it’s fast and “free” — it’s not without some very big challenges. A report from MarketingSherpa identified the following list of problems experienced by the top U.S. email marketers:

3          Difficulty reaching recipients: 66 percent

3          Getting people to opt-in: 46 percent

3          Deliverability even from “opted-in recipients: 39 percent

3          Quantifying email return on investment: 37 percent

3          Legitimate email being perceived as spam: 35 percent

And that list is from people running multimillion-dollar campaigns. No wonder it’s a little troubling for the rest of us.

We’ve advised clients since 2000 to gather email addresses, getting ever cleverer in acquisition as rules and results changed. We’ll attack those Top 3 problems with methods that work best now:

•          Squeeze page for opt-in. These work. A “squeeze page” is used when you send people from a larger list (your social site, co-op list, etc.) to a very short, non-threatening, “free” report, video or coupon in exchange for entering their email.

•          Use quick-response (QR) codes to squeeze. This is the way to marry print and online. Put these in your direct mail offers or newsletters to build email addresses.

•          Request an appointment. Your customer service person merely requests the caller to give their email address for the “appointment confirmation and product alerts.”  About 80 percent will comply.  Easy, fast, free.

•          Build your email list constantly, providing only relevant content to the recipients. Let your “selling” emails come from either a different “sender” or very infrequently.

•          Search engine optimization marketing. Now, it’s all about content and integration. Of course, as you collect customer information, don’t let it just sit in your computer files gathering dust. Put it to use. The ultimate test of effectiveness of any customer database is whether or not you’re actually using that fuel to generate more traffic to your company. 

Pick one theme, one look, and for each promotion, one message. Pound that in across the media and watch the results. These are called sister promotions and you’re advised to use this approach in all of your marketing.

To those who think traditional marketing (print ads, radio, direct mail) is a thing of the past, I say, “Not so fast.” The key is balance and integration. Just as your Web addresses should be on every print, radio or TV ad, so should your phone number in every online advertisement.

Online and offline are not separate or at odds; they blend into a cohesive whole, intelligently managed for optimum results. 

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. Snips readers can get the free report, “Five Steps to Seven Figures,” by emailing their request to or faxing to (334)-262-1115.  See other marketing reports at or call (800) 489-9099.